Organic farming becoming more popular with Saudis

Updated 07 February 2016

Organic farming becoming more popular with Saudis

RIYADH: The Saudi government is strongly supporting the development of organic farming and institutional capacity building as part of an ambitious plan to expand the Kingdom’s shift toward organic agriculture, which will be good for the country’s nutritional needs, public health and environment. Plans are afoot to establish more than 20 organic farms within a year from now.
This was disclosed by Ibrahim M. Al-Shahwan, vice chairman of the Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA), on Friday. He said that “the government’s incentives for promoting organic farming and the general awareness about he benefits of organic products have led to the establishment of about 145 organic farms so far across different regions of the Kingdom.”
The SOFA deputy chief explained the trends of organic farming in Saudi Arabia, and said that organic agriculture is sustainable and profitable. “Moreover, organic farming cuts down dependence on water by 30 percent, which is indeed better for a harsh environment like Saudi Arabia,” he added.
To this end, he noted that Saudi Arabia also does not allow any genetically modified products like seeds for organic farming. “It is a matter of protection, as changing genetics in organisms can harm human beings,” explained the SOFA deputy chief. He pointed out that SOFA has an in-house farmers’ assistance department to help start-ups and farmers across the country.
Asked about the progress made by the Kingdom in the domain of organic farming, he said that “there were only two farms some 10 years back, and currently the total number of organic farms exceeds 145 in total.”
“Some farms are producing cereals, some are producing vegetables,” said Al-Shahwan, whose own farm grows about 42 diverse products.
The Saudi government supports organic farmers by paying fees for certification, extending support to improve the quality of farming and rendering technical advice. He said that the Kingdom has had a conducive climate to promote organic agriculture.
Organic farming typically refers to the production of fruits, vegetables, grains, and other food products as well as cereals without the use of antibiotics, pesticides, or other items.
On the question of self-sufficiency achieved by the country, Al-Shahwan said that “the Kingdom is self-reliant in the production of eggs, cucumber, tomato, dairy products, and a few other products.” He, however, asserted that the government does not allow these products to be exported outside the Kingdom mainly to save water resources.
Only dairy products including milk are allowed by the Saudi government to be exported. “It will be the better option for a water-starved country like the Kingdom, if we can produce enough for our own consumption, keeping in view the depleting water resources, which cannot be used to grow fruits and vegetables for exports,” he added.
About innovative research being conducted by the Kingdom, especially in the agriculture and organic farming sector, he said that a number of studies and research projects have been undertaken by government agencies and universities in the country. To this end, he pointed out that a research study has suggested neem products to protect date palm trees.


Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

Updated 17 November 2019

Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

  • Waheed Jalal's voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations

RIYADH: Visitors to Riyadh’s first anime expo stopped by the first panel on Saturday unaware that they would be leaving the stage with memories renewed of their favorite voice actors of all time.

Waheed Jalal and Jihad Al-Atrashi will forever live on in the hearts of fans of “Grendizer” and “Treasure Island (Takarajima),” the two shows that introduced the Arab world to anime in the 1970s.

Jalal, whose voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations, expressed how delighted he was to be with the audience.

“I want to thank you and your Kingdom of generosity and culture,” he said.

Al-Atrash, who portrayed Duke Fleed, echoed his sentiments: “You are great people with great values, thank you to the people of the Kingdom that stand next to people of all nations.”

Jalal was touched by the audience’s love and warm welcome, “You guys are the reason we continued this far, without you it wouldn’t have been possible,” he told them.

“We’re persevering to this day because people loved these characters we portrayed so much, our other works pale in comparison,” he added.

Jalal said that the reason “Grendizer” remained with so many people is because of the values and morals depicted in the show, teaching generations to be loyal and loving to their nation and their people.

Artist and creator Ibrahim Al-Lami. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The voice acting pair talked about the importance of speaking in formal Arabic in these shows. Jalal said it’s because “you’re presenting to the entire Arab world.”

Local dialects would be difficult for others to understand, so we must all aspire to perfect our formal Arabic, added Jalal.

Before concluding the talk, a teaser was played of the first Saudi anime “Makkeen” by artist and creator, Ibrahim Al-Lami, who announced that 60 percent of the work was completed through local efforts.

“We’ll introduce a new work that is by our people, written by our people and voiced by our people,” he said to the audience.

The work will feature characters voiced by Jalal and Al-Atrash, who have become symbolic to the Arab anime world. “I told them, this work wouldn’t be complete without you two,” said Lami on his choice of voice actors. “We want these works to see the light of day. We need to provide the new generations with tales of our own,” added Al-Atrash when asked why he wanted to partake in the anime.